These refined, proven creativity triggers will infuse new thinking into your new product, feature and business model ideation process.

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Outcome-Driven Ideation Creativity Triggers


Creativity, as defined in the context of ideation, is the mental process by which an idea for a new product, service or feature concept is triggered and conceived. More specifically, it requires that you make a mental connection between the technologies, systems, methods and processes that are possible or available, and how these might be employed to address unmet customer needs. This can be a daunting task given the multitude of solution combinations and permutations that are possible.

This issue can be tackled by taking two very important steps. First, uncover and quantify the unmet needs that represent the biggest market opportunities in advance of an ideation session. This way you’ll know the ideation team is focused on solving known, unmet needs. …

Rather than generating hundreds of questionable ideas, devise solutions that explicitly address your customer’s most underserved needs.

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Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas for products and services; it is the idea generation phase of the innovation process. Many methods and tools exist that can aid in the ideation process, including brainstorming, mind-mapping, lateral thinking, SCAMPER, TRIZ and others.

Historically, companies employ ideation methods that disappoint along two fronts. First, managers are often paralyzed by the number of ideas that are generated, as they lack the ability to adequately evaluate and prioritize them. Consequently, they are inundated with hundreds of ideas and have no way to effectively determine which are best. …

Applying Jobs-to-be-Done as a proactive managerial science negates the need to apply it as a reactive behavioral science.

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Many innovators try to make things people want; others try to make people want things.

Many innovators believe that while customers may not know what *solutions* they want, they certainly know what they are trying to achieve and can communicate their needs in that regard. Consequently, they seek to: (i) understand all of their customer’s needs, (ii) determine which are under/over-served (iii) proactively create products that address them, and (iv) market those products around the needs that have been addressed.

Others believe that people don’t know what they want and therefore it’s their company’s responsibility to: (i) create products that customers are incapable of describing or envisioning, and then (ii) figure out how to motivate and entice people to buy them. These managers place less importance on understanding all customer needs because they believe customers can’t articulate all their needs and have needs they don’t even know they have, i.e., …

New product success becomes predictable once you know the metrics customers use to measure progress when trying to get a job done.

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People often choose to switch from one product to another when a new product helps them “make progress in a given circumstance.” This terminology is sometimes used to explain Jobs-to-be-Done Theory, but using the term “progress” to describe the goal of the customer often raises questions in the minds of product planners and others as they try to predictably conceptualize winning solutions.

When applying Jobs Theory with a focus on customer progress, those responsible for product innovation often struggle to answer two very important questions:

  1. How do customers define “progress?”
  2. How should customer progress be measured?

The Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) process offers answers to these questions, as it provides a system for measuring customer progress in a given circumstance and for using the insights to create products and services that are far more likely to win in the marketplace. …

Defining the customer’s job-to-be-done correctly is fundamental to a company’s success. Don’t let these two common mistakes derail your innovation efforts.

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“People don’t want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

This quote, which was made popular by Theodore Levitt, forms the foundation for Jobs-to-be-Done Theory: the notion that people buy products (like drills) to get a “job” done (e.g., create a quarter-inch hole). Sounds simple enough — companies are in business to create products and services that help customers get a job done.

Jobs-to-be-Done Theory goes on to say that a deep understanding of the job the customer is trying to get done will reveal unique insights that can make innovation more predictable, which is proven to be true (see Core JTBD Tenets). …

While customer insights have driven hardware and software development for years, Jobs-To-Be-Done and ODI take customer-centered innovation to the next level.

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Whether a company is investing in the creation of a product, service or software solution, there are 4 key jobs that must be executed effectively by a company’s planning and development teams. For each product that is launched, a company must:

  1. Conceptualize the product that is to be developed for the target market. To be successful, the conceptualized product must help users get a core functional job done better and/or more cheaply. This effort is the responsibility of the product planner or process owner.
  2. Engineer/architect the product to perform the core functional job it is intended to perform. This effort is the responsibility of the product engineer or software architect. If the product does not get the core job done better and/or more cheaply, then the next two efforts are a waste of time.

Acknowledging who is ultimately responsible for product innovation — and ensuring they have the tools to succeed — can dramatically improve a company’s innovation success rate.

When it comes to introducing new products, companies excel: they introduce thousands of new products every year. Unfortunately, most of them fail. This highlights the real issue that plagues companies worldwide:

Companies do not struggle to create products. Rather, they struggle to create the right products, i.e., those that are certain to win in the marketplace.

This raises an important question:

In your company, who is responsible for deciding what products will enter the product development process — and for making sure they are the right products?

As it turns out, innovation is not everybody’s responsibility. Ironically, in most companies just a hand full of people decide what products will enter the product development process. This small group of people (which is likely to include VP’s, directors and other managers) is ultimately responsible for innovation: for ensuring the products they approve for development will be successful in the marketplace. If they approve products that fail to exit the development process or fail in the marketplace, they will have wasted the company’s time, money and resources. Consequently, their ultimate goal is to ensure only winning products enter the product development process — and reject all others.

Helping a product team see a market through a Jobs-to-be-Done lens is often a transformational experience. This training canvas can help drive that transformation — and company growth.

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The Jobs-To-Be-Done Canvas


I am sharing the Jobs-To-Be-Done Canvas (links below) with the JTBD Community in an effort to encourage and help product, marketing and strategy teams:

  • Learn the fundamentals of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory and the Outcome-Driven Innovation process.
  • Establish a common language for innovation, thus facilitating agreement on critical process inputs.
  • See their markets through a new lens — one that aligns them more closely with customers and results in a more predictable approach to innovation.
  • Discover possible opportunities for growth, i.e., where current offerings fail to address a job step, outcomes or related or consumption jobs.

My hope is that innovation champions in companies around the world will use the Jobs-To-Be-Done Canvas to accelerate the adoption of new thinking — and accelerate their growth. …

The innovation process has been transformed from an art to a science, yet companies are slow to adopt new thinking. These 5 barriers may be standing in your way of predictable growth.

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Any company can master innovation and create products and services that will consistently and predictably win in the marketplace. The process for doing so has been around for decades. Despite this reality, most companies complain of 70-plus percent innovation failure rates. Ironically, as CEOs rank innovation a top priority, and their companies struggle to achieve predictable innovation, they fail to address the obvious problem.

The secret to success is really no secret at all. Innovation must be treated like any other business process. If a company wants to excel at lead generation, for example, it must invest in an effective lead generation process. If it wants to excel at customer service, it must invest in an effective customer service process. Innovation is no different.

Klement is trying to hijack the JTBD brand by claiming the proven Jobs-to-be-Done Theory is all wrong (it’s not) and that only he has the credentials to reinvent it (he doesn’t).

Over the past year or so I’ve often been asked about the different explanations of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory that have emerged. People are confused as they are being exposed to conflicting views of Jobs Theory. Interestingly, the source of all the controversy and confusion can be traced back to one person — Alan Klement.

Prior to 2016, Alan Klement was a relative unknown in the Jobs-to-be-Done community. He briefly worked for Bob Moesta’s Rewired Group as a researcher. Since that time Klement has been trying to sell himself as an expert on Jobs-to-be-Done Theory. He released an e-book called When Coffee and Kale Compete in October 2016 and claimed it was the first book ever written about jobs-to-be-done (it wasn’t What Customer’s Want published in 2005, Service Innovation in 2010, The Social Innovation Imperative in 2012, and others came first). …


Tony Ulwick

Founder of the innovation consulting firm Strategyn, pioneer of Jobs-to-be-Done Theory, creator of Outcome-Driven Innovation.

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